The Replacements have always been more than a band to me. They were my high school counselors, my best friends in college, and they have remained loyal ever since. However, I didn’t discover them until right before they broke up. When they announced their 2013 festival dates, I was beyond excited, but, once realizing they weren’t coming anywhere near me, a little bummed.
Then they announced their 2015 tour. Again, New Orleans wasn’t on the list. Again, I was bummed. Then, I remembered that we were going to Anaheim for Star Wars Celebration in April. I checked the tour dates. On April 16, they would be playing at the Hollywood Palladium. I checked my calendar. We were leaving for Anaheim on April 15. I double-checked. I tripled checked.
Cristina was excited because I was excited. When the day came to buy tickets, I held my breath from the Ticketmaster login until the screen said congratulations.
We were scheduled to fly Wednesday April 15. A tornado and mechanical problems almost threatened the trip. However, with much help from Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alamo Car Rental, we made it to Anaheim right around one in the morning.
We spent a good part of the 16th at the Star Wars Celebration. Cristina was able to meet Ian McDarmind and Carrie Fisher. We left the con around five and rested at the hotel for a few minutes. It actually only took about an hour to travel from Anaheim to Hollywood. The traffic was not as horrible as people had led us to believe, much to my surprise. This is especially true if you have ever driven around Baton Rouge at rush hour.
We parked at the Palladium and headed to the merch line. If you read this blog often, you know that we both like to collect certain things. We both support each other in our collecting. The merch table was no different. Cristina encouraged me to buy whatever I wanted as well as a few more things. So three shirts, two posters, a bag, and a beer koozie later, we were ready for the show.
The first act, together PANGEA, put on a solid opening set. They were noticeably excited to be playing both at the Palladium and, more importantly, opening for the Replacements. The highest compliment I can give them is that I am listening to their album, Badillac, as I type this.
It started to get crowded near us between the two bands. While I won’t look down on drinking at shows, I do not understand drinking to the point where you are not sure who is playing. I paid good money for these shows, and I cannot understand why you would pay money and then get so drunk you think Robert Smith will be singing into the middle microphone. Now, even though the Cure and the Replacements touring together would be my dream concert, Paul and Robert should not be confused with each other, like a guy next to me kept doing.
Then, the Replacements hit the stage. Even though I was exhausted from a lack of sleep and walking all day at Star Wars Celebration, I found a new source of energy the moment “I’m in Trouble” started. When they switched from “Kissin’ in Action” into “Iron Man” and back again, I knew we were in for a treat. The band was tight and in sync. When I was in high school and college, “Little Mascara” was one of my favorite songs. I am sure I lost it when they started playing it.
The entire concert was full of highlights. Every song stood out. Even when things went bad, such a guitar strap coming undone or a microphone not staying up, they just rolled with it. While I did not go to the Wednesday night show, the setlists were different enough for the people who did go both nights. While there are some songs I wish they played, I cannot complain about the setlist we got. The highlight of highlights was “Sixteen Blue.” When Paul said, “You’re still mine,” I had tears in my eyes. That song, more than other work of art, made me understand I was not alone in my loneliness. If that were the only song they played, I would have gotten my money’s worth.
Of course, that was not the only song that they played. The crowd was energetic and sang along for most songs, including the guy who thought he was Robert Smith. While Paul’s words have shadowed the feelings of his fans, the music of the Replacements truly has been the soundtrack to our lives. The opening of “I Will Dare” is etched in our minds as is so many other songs. The covers and the new song “Whole Food Blues” might have been jokes, but these “jokes” showed how good of a band they can be and how Tommy and Paul are really great musicians. They might not be Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, but we do not need them to be. It also helps that Josh Freese and David Minehan are not only great musicians in their own right, but their love for the band comes through in the music. In fact, we ran into David on the way home at a Quiznos in the Denver airport. I did not want to take up much of his time, especially since he was waiting for food, but I did thank him for putting on a great show. He remarked how great it was to play with guys he idolized.
There were times when Paul could not sing the words, such as with the guitar strap issue, but the fans were there for him. I think he got a kick out of the fact that he could have 4000 people sing his songs. I know reunion shows always come off as cash grabs, but I, for one, have no problem with that in this case. They deserve it. While one of the great things about being a Replacements fan was that they were your band, I wish they had been huge. I know that very few of my friends are Replacements fans (I can count them on one hand). However, I have always preached the Gospel of Paul, Tommy, Chris, Bob, and Slim. I have always wanted others to enjoy “Valentine”, “Achin’ to Be”, and “Alex Chilton” as much as I do. I still want to hear “Left of the Dial” played live in the stadium. While most of the crowd was my age or older, there were also young people there. They knew all the words. They pumped their fists at the same time as we did. They had the same look of joy that all us middle-agers had. I hope that after this show they become evangelists as well.
Cristina, who was enjoying me enjoying the Replacements, decided to go to the back for the encores. We were up near the front, right behind the “mosh” pit. She was exhausted especially because she did more at the Star Wars then I did. After the show, she told me getting back to the lobby was extremely difficult. She had no idea that it was that crowded, but she understood the crowd better than I think I did.
As she explained to her brother-in-law earlier in the day, this was not a show where most of the crowd will know the hits and go to the restroom during the deep cuts. As Paul said during the show, “We have no hits!” Yet, she explained to him that every song to a Replacements fan is a both a hit and a deep cut. She knew that the crowd would know every song and sing along to each one. As far as I know, she has never listened to the Replacements voluntarily. However, the rest of the weekend I would catch her singing “I’m in Trouble.” Then she would purposely change the lyrics to piss me off and she would smile knowingly. Somehow, I think the guys would approve.